An Interview with Lorna and Larry Collins

Years ago my wife and I did the math and realized that financially it didn't make a lot of sense for both of us to work. When you figure in the cost of extra clothes, extra travel, meals out, and exhaustion, dual incomes are often pointless. I had the greater earning potential as a college professor, so I kept my daytime job, and Ann stopped being a paralegal, which wasn't a lot of fun anyway.
It gave her a chance to focus on her work, and now she's found a new career that she works out of the home. But in those early years, she decided that she was going to help me promoting my work. She sent out all of my work, generally one manuscript a day, short stories, poems, and the occassional book, and she would send to places I would have never thought of. Thus, Garrison Keillor picked me up on the radio, Sunny Frazier worked on a book with me, and . . . well I could go on immodestly but let's just say she gave me the juice to brag.
If you can work with your spouse without killing each other, then you will have magic in your career. Two people focused basically on one goal.
And that pretty much describes the relationship of Lorna and Larry Collins who write together, and importantly for this blog, promote together.
Their books include 31 Months in Japan, a memoir about building a theme park in Japan.
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They also have written mysteries such as Murder in Paradise.
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In addition, they each write their own books. I was especially excited to talk to Larry who went to Cal Poly, Pomona, one of my alma maters. 
Here's the interview:
At what point in your writing process do you start to promote the novel you’re working on specifically? I mean you are clearly branding yourselves as writers all the times, but when do make that shift so you are promoting the current novel?
As soon as we have a commitment for publication of a new book, we start adding the information to our email signature. (i.e.: Look for New Book, coming soon from XYZ Publishing.) We also  announce the upcoming book on both our profiles and our author page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. We have our webmaster add the information to our website. And we order business cards through VistaPrint for each specific book title. We start handing them out, telling people that the book will be coming soon. Of course, we also mention each step in the process as the book is going through publishing (first edit, final edit, galley, cover, etc.).
As part of our ongoing information, we include what we are currently working (WIP) on in some of our Facebook posts.
What percentage of the time do you spend promoting online versus meeting people face to face
We probably spend about 80% online and 20% meeting people. Although, lately, we’re doing more speaking and book events, so we are engaging more in person. We went to Disneyland twice in the past two weeks, handed out several business cards (our author ones, which we always carry with us) and are sure we sold at least four books. Those long lines are good for something! And our experience in the theme park industry always makes for interesting conversations.
You write together, and I assume that you promote together. What separate strengths do you bring to your promotion? That is, how do you divide the labor, or do you?
Actually, Lorna is the major promoter, and Larry does what he’s asked to do. If Lorna tells him to post something on his Facebook profile, he does it. He’s getting better about picking up some of the slack, but Lorna is still the primary marketing person.
Are there organizations or groups that you would suggest writers joining?
When we first were published, we joined EPIC, the Electronic Industry Publishing Coalition. Our first book, 31 Months in Japan: the Building of a Theme Park, was a 2006 finalist for the EPPIE award, and it received several other honors. For that reason, we attended EPICon that year in San Antonio. There we met so many people, some of whom have become very dear friends. And through that group’s email loop, we’ve learned more about the publishing industry in general and e-publishing in particular than anywhere else. Although EPIC membership is limited to industry professionals (published authors, editors, publishers, agents, etc.), EPICon, the conference, is open to readers, writers, and others interested in the business. Next March, the conference will be held in Vancouver, WA. (See the website for more information.)
Lorna is also a member of the National League of American Pen Women. We have recently been meeting other authors and taking part in their in-person events.
Actually, we’re basically pretty cheap, and some of the national organizations charge a great deal for what we consider little benefit. Therefore, we weigh the cost against the potential exposure. We also pay attention to what other writers who are friends are doing and consider their recommendations.
What do you see as the most productive thing you do for promotion?
Probably our online presence is the most important. We have a mailing list of over 1000 names to whom we send regular announcements, including blog information. We blog every week, usually on Mondays, and include that information plus whatever other events are upcoming. We have a beautiful website, designed and updated by our precious Japanese ‘son-in-law.’ (He’s married to one of our Japanese ‘daughters.’ We have several who, as students, lived with us on home-stay programs.) And we use social media a lot!
How do you choose a new book from a living writer yourself?
We have met so many new writers through EPIC and our publishers. We usually have a backlog of books to read. We also read for several contests, so that provides our material. Our favorite contemporary writers are Marilyn Meredith, Terry Brooks, Gail Tsukiyama, Jennifer Crusie, Holly Jacobs (all of whom we’ve met, and several of whom are good friends) as well as Janet Evonavich and several humor writers. We have very eclectic tastes, as you can see, both in reading and in writing. maybe we’re just easily bored!
One of my favorite bits of information here is how they are always promoting. Standing in line at Disneyland they sell books. Friendlieness goes a long way.

So here's the question for this blog -- working with your spouse, I love it, the Collinses clearly love it, could you do it?